Namibia's forests are shrinking

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says it is crucial to stop deforestation.

23 July 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



A total of 8.6% of Namibia's total land area is currently covered by forests.

This has slightly decreased from 9.76% over the past two decades.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) yesterday launched its most comprehensive forestry assessment to date in an innovative and easy-to-use digital format.

Available for public viewing, the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2020) and its first-ever online interactive dissemination platform contain detailed regional and global analyses for 236 countries and territories.



Namibia

According to Namibia's country report, 6.638 million hectares of land is currently covered in forests of the more than 82.3 million hectares of total land area in the country.

The report, however, indicates that in 2010, the forest area in Namibia covered more than 7.348 million hectares. While other wooded areas have remained the same over the years at 54.08 million hectares, other land areas in the country have increased over time from 20.8 million hectares in 2010 to more than 21.6 million hectares this year.

The report noted that millions of people around the world depend on forests for their food security and livelihoods.

Turning the tide on

deforestation

“Protecting forests is also key to conserving natural resources, as they harbour most of the earth's terrestrial biodiversity and help mitigate climate change impacts,” the report said.

The FAO said it is therefore crucial to turn the tide on deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, which can be done by conserving and sustainably managing forests and trees within an integrated landscape approach, and addressing forestry and food security challenges together.

“Reliable and comprehensive information on forests and other land uses play a vital role in this process.”



Key findings

Key findings from the report indicated that the world has a total forest area of 4.06 billion hectares, which is about 31% of the total land the earth's area.

Europe, including the Russian Federation, accounts for 25% of the world's forest area, followed by South America (21%), North and Central America (19%), Africa (16%), Asia (15%) and Oceania (5%).

The global forest area continues to decrease, and the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990. However, the rate of net forest loss decreased substantially over the period 1990-2020, due to a reduction in deforestation in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and natural expansion of forests,” the FAO said.

Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010 to 2020, at 3.9 million hectares, followed by South America (2.6 million hectares). The highest net gain of forest area in 2010 to 2020 was in Asia.

Since 1990, an estimated 420 million hectares of forest have been lost worldwide through deforestation and conversion of forests to other land uses such as agriculture. However, the rate of forest loss has declined substantially.

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